TV Watch with Dave O'Connell
You’re either a fully paid-up member of the Shameless fan club or you think it’s nothing more than pure filth masquerading as comedy – and I’m firmly in the former camp.
The inhabitants of the Chatsworth estate in the heart of Manchester’s Council slums survive on a diet of drink, drugs and unorthodox sex – with a dollop of murder, serious crime and anything else that’s outside the system thrown in.
It’s not for the faint-hearted – nor is most of it for airing in a family newspaper – but there are few offerings on the box that will have you laughing like a drain at the sheer brazenness of it all.
Series 11 – and tragically the final one – started last week, but the problem is that, if you’ve missed the first 10 years, it’s probably as well to let it all drift past you now because you’d need a degree in Shamelessness to catch up.
In essence, it’s about two families – the Gallaghers and the Maguires – whose roots are firmly on this side of the Irish Sea but whose capacity for wrongdoing is down to life on the margins in Manchester.
Frank Gallagher – titular head of the Gallagher clan – is about as good for nothing a layabout as you could find in a lifetime’s search.
The Maguires, on the other hand, lost their leader in series 7 when Paddy passed over, but his ex-wife Mimi stepped up to the plate as the Godmother of crime, running a drugs empire like she was to the manor born.
Now she’s married to a toy boy Billy, she’s mother of little Cilla and, as of last week, she’s hijacked control of the local school via the PTA.
None of this sits well with her sons Jamie, Shane and Mickey, who all bring their own baggage to the table – Jamie, who runs the Jockeys, the pub at the heart of everything, with his wife Karen who now has him on a leash since he was caught offside last time; Shane, who has a new business enterprise and an oversexed police woman on tap; and Mickey, who is now embracing his homosexuality with all the enthusiasm of a starving man embracing a full dinner.
History has seen the balance of power on the Chatsworth shift from the Gallaghers to the Maguires – not least because half the Gallaghers have left the show – but Frank remains the undisputed hero of the hour.
The last series saw him forced to find work in a burger shop and his antics there should have served as a warning to the horse meat scandal. In hindsight, you’d settle for horse compared to some of the stuff Frank was lobbing in between the buns.
This time, he’s theoretically climbing the employment ladder as a school janitor after Mimi’s PTA coup, which is also conveniently funding his new leisure activity with the wonderfully named Gastric Bandits, Sherrilee and Derrilee, an obese prostitute double act who light up his life.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.